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Monday, November 28, 2011


ATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received 500 participants in an international conference on the theme: "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II", organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. It was John Paul II who established the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as well as the World Day of the Sick, and the Good Samaritan Foundation which offers health care services to poor people in a number of countries.

  Extracts from Benedict XVI's remarks to the group are given below:

  "Over the long and intense years of his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed that serving the sick in body and spirit must be a constant part of the ecclesial community's commitment to evangelisation, in accordance with Jesus command to the Twelve to go forth and heal", he said.

  "The mystery of suffering seems to obscure the face of God, almost making Him a stranger, or even identifying Him as the person responsible for human suffering; however the eyes of faith can see into the depths of this mystery. God became incarnate, He came close to man, even in the most difficult situations. He did not eliminate suffering, but in the risen Christ, in the Son of God Who suffered unto death, and death on a cross, He showed us that His love descends even into man's deepest abyss and brings him hope. ... In the Son, Who was 'given' for the salvation of humankind, the truth of love is, in some way, proven through the truth of suffering, and the Church, born from the mystery of Redemption upon the Cross of Christ, must meet man on the long path of his suffering".

  "Your proximity and the care you show to our sick brothers and sisters, often alone and suffering not only physically, but also spiritually and morally, places you in a privileged position to bear witness to the salvific action of God, His love for mankind and the world which embraces even the most painful and terrible situations. The Face of the Saviour, dying upon the cross, ... teaches us to defend and promote life, whatever its state and condition, recognising the dignity and value of each individual human being, who was created in the image and likeness of God, and is called to eternal life.

  "The slow Calvary of the final years of life of Blessed John Paul II bore witness to this vision of pain and suffering illuminated by the death and resurrection of Christ", Pope Benedict added. "His profound humility, rooted in his intimate bond with Christ, enabled him to continue to guide the Church, and to address an even more eloquent message to the world, even when his physical strength was failing".

  "Dear friends", the Holy Father concluded, "in the service you provide in the various fields of health pastoral care, may you too experience that 'only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much He loves me'".
AC/                                    VIS 20111128 (530)

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